Worldbuilding is an integral part of the planning or outlining stages for stories set in worlds, universes and realities that are different to our own. It can help to inform your story and setting, and it can also help with characterisation. In fact, often in fantasy stories, the world the author has created becomes a character in itself.
Stories set in ‘the real world’ probably don’t need as much worldbuilding as a story set on an alien planet, a spaceship or in a fantastical, magical realm because people live in and generally understand the real world and how things work.
However, if you’re story is science fiction or fantasy, then you need to do some work building the story world. For stories set in places like those mentioned above, you’d need to think about everything from the large-scale things like geography, government, and even theology, to the smaller scale stuff such as what the buildings just to dump all of it into your story of, what types of clothes the people wear and what kinds of food they eat.
A great way to go about building your story world is to create a ‘world bible’: a ring binder or folder where you can keep track of all the different categories and vast amounts of information you’ll need. (You can find a great list to get you started here).
I find that a ring binder is best, and I partition it with pages of coloured card (just because I’m more of a visual person, and the colour helps me to focus). Then I start to fill the binder with outlines of each category, and then I go further by writing fully detailed descriptions of every last thing I can think of about the world.
It’s more than likely that you won’t use all of that information. After all, it would be a little much to dump all of it into your story, but just like with character creation, the more you as the writer know about your world, and the more you understand it, the better you’ll be able to describe it to your readers.
As always, thank you very much for reading, I really do appreciate your valuable time.
Until next time,
© 2018 GLT
How do you typically organize your information in those binders?
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Hi Dan, I usually use dividers with things like ‘Government’ ‘people’ ‘geography’ and such like, then in each section I add an outline of what each one is. Then I go further and write a detailed description of each.
So under government I might write about the hierarchy and whether it’s a sovereign state.
Afterwards I’ll list everything good about the government and everything bad (Sometimes you can find good conflict in there). Under geography I do a very rough sketch of the layout of the world, where the continents are, if there are any, and whether or not the planet is geologically stable.
Then on a separate page I’ll write what the ground is made of and whether there are any useful minerals in it.
Also I always do the bigger stuff first, like geography, theology, society. Once I know what they all look like I move onto the smaller stuff like clothing and language and social norms. Hope that helps 😀